You'll hear that writers make 200K a year--don't believe it. There are always a few high paid people that hide the many others who are making anywhere from 5K to a more reasonable middle class income. BUT...as shows come and go, so do their jobs, and the residuals from re-running their shows are what keep them and their families going in between those jobs. If they are shut out of internet residuals, as they are presently, and yet all or most of our content shifts to the internet, certainly most of the re-runs, what's going to keep them going during the lean times? And as the writers go, so will the actors and other guild members throughout the industry. That's why many producers are supporting them in this strike.
Some believe the very existence of the Guild is at stake--and with it the pension and health benefits its members need.
If you happen to live in New York or L.A. and have any time, drop by and offer your support, bring some refreshments, or pick up a sign and help them picket.
I wish I could be there.
More on the issues:
If the Guild does not conduct a successful strike now, in years to come emboldened companies will force rollbacks on a demoralized Guild - and the net cost of not striking could be gigantic. Collectively, Guild members presently earn $260 million a year in residuals, all of which could be lost in the near future as downloads and streaming media replace DVDs and second-run broadcasts. That money, split among 12,000 members, is what feeds our families and sustains our health coverage when we as freelance workers are in between jobs (which, for the average writer, is a fact of life.)
But the loss of those residuals has already started happening to the writers on Lost and Heroes, where the second network telecast has been replaced by internet streaming – for which the companies offer nothing.
If the Guild doesn't strike over this, any rational company next time around will insist the Guild give up its health and pension plans, and then its minimums.
Behind the cut, a teamster weighs in on how this issue affects him and why he supports the strike.
"I am a teamster. A location scout on a TV show. My small corner of Warner Brothers Television is far removed from the writers' offices. I make a fraction of what they do, work more hours, and my family's schedule is ruined every time they write "EXT: NIGHT." I've been on my current show for 10 weeks and I just met my first writer.
Yet if the next time I see him he's wearing a red shirt and carrying a placard, I will not cross his line.
I could just say "Teamsters don't cross picket lines." I could just say "I need a vacation." I could just say "I believe in the rights of the working man." While that is all true, the real reason is more complex. I believe this is the opening round of a long battle that every union member in Hollywood will have to face as our contracts expire.
The digital world is not in the future, it is here now. It is now possible to watch Television and Movies entirely on the internet, and the network sites, with ads galore, are proof. This is not a hypothetical. It is profit-making reality. If the writers are denied fair payment for reuse, I do not believe the Directors, Actors and the rest of us will fare any better when our turn comes.
Yes, I said the "rest of us." While I don't receive individual residual payments for my work as a teamster, my pension and health fund does. As the distribution stream goes digital those residual payments will slow to a trickle, and the fund will suffer. When the time comes I plan on being old, sick, and in need of Health Care. And the WB doesn't want me to have it.
So no, I will not be crossing any picket line. And I ask you to join me. Not for the writers. Not for Me. Not for my kids. Not even for you. For all of us. Because that's what it's going to take. All of us.